Trafalgar, Magna Carta, Waterloo
The despondent Tory cult gathering in Manchester has given the world some extraordinary rhetoric this week as they try to come to terms with their own internal civil war, the debacle of Brexit they have created and their own lame duck leader they are trying to kill-off quietly in some political back-alley and not in the full glare of media attention.
Fratricide is a Tory speciality but this is getting a bit drawn-out.
One way to do this is to distract their own dwindling members with some rabble-rousing nationalism. Here’s Jacob Rees-Mogg in full-flight:
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) October 2, 2017
Mogg should not be dismissed as a comedy candidate, but the others are worth a look.
Whilst all of the media attention goes to Boris Johnson – Phil Hammond made an important intervention yesterday and is by far the most serious and dangerous candidate, his dire attempts at humour aside [11 Moments of Hilarious banter].
Hammond’s speech – in which he announced no new policies and spent much of the address attacking Jeremy Corbyn – was a very odd affair in content, tone and delivery.
He chuntered on and on about the 1970s and announced an extra £10bn for the government’s help-to-buy housing scheme. But it was a speech dripping with ideology. Clearly the message has gone out that the Conservatives need to engage with young people, sadly Hammonds attempts were cackhanded and revealing, he said:
“I think we owe it to the next generation to show how Corbyn’s Marxist policies will inevitably lead us back to where Britain was in the late 1970’s. We know what state control does to industry: utilities, transport; energy; steel, coal, mail, shipbuilding, telecoms, ports, airports and much of heavy manufacturing were all nationalised.”
Aside from the obvious point that there is nothing whatsoever Marxist about the Labour Party, and the generation he is appealing to have no memory of the 1970s and have a life-experience instead of being ripped-off daily by the privatised commododified world the Tories created, apart from that, it’s a great line.
The reality is that Labour’s modest policies of taking public control of some key utilities and industries are mainstream in most of Europe and have been met with a youthful shrug of ‘Makes sense, this isn’t working’ by anyone young enough to miss Hammond’s buzzword ‘Zimbabwe’.
Here’s a party with average age of 71 wondering how to appeal to young people. A party of landlords trying to appeal to a generation of renters without undermining their own cash-flow.
In a bizarre aside Hammond – clearly rattled – created a whole mythology of Tory-victimhood:
“We will take them on. And we will defeat them. And I promise you this: we will defeat them by the power of argument; by our logic; by the experience of history. We will not resort to the politics of the mob, to the threats, the intimidation, the undertones of lawlessness that were so menacingly present last week. Nor will we be cowed by intimidation whether it’s on the streets or online.”
Hammond is clearly facing up to what he sees as a threat to his parties class and power.
At a £400 a head dinner he puts out this call to his business associates:
As Paul Mason has pointed out when Hammond focuses on “principles that undermine our economic structure at risk” – this is essentially a call for extraparliamentary resistance to Lab Govt by CEOs.
The chancellor has clearly been drinking the Kool-Aid and now getting into his stride proclaims:
” …we blazed a trail of ideas that ultimately liberated the people of Eastern Europe, unleashed the boom in international trade and allowed what we used to call the “less developed economies” to become the emerging economic giants of today.”
Read the full speech here.
Let’s leave the lead candidate running on a ticket of “I’m not a Clown” and focus on our own Ruth.
It’s a puzzle to some why Ruth Davidson has had such an impact. The praise for her is lavish and the claims from some that she’s a PM in making – that’s a PM not an FM! – are extraordinary for someone who has never held a Cabinet position, who has never won an election and has no record in office.
What’s going on?
In a remarkable piece on Sunday Euan McColm outlined Davidson’s route to No 10 explaining: “Should Johnson fail, Davidson won’t necessarily be home and dry: the ludicrous Jacob Rees-Mogg is the Tories third most popular choice to be next Prime Minister.”
“Home and dry” – he actually wrote those words.
Nor were there problems he could foresee (like the fact she’s not been elected as an MP):
“The fact that the Scottish Conservative leader is not an MP matters not a jot to her champions in the party. If she indicated the slightest inclination to move from Holyrood to Westminster, there are powerful Tories who would see to it that she was able to do so.”
The idea that Davidson might be better networked in UK power circles than the Chancellor or the Etonian duo of Boris and Jacob is of course absurd, but the lavish praise as she emerges as the Great White Hope for so many fanboys is revealing.
Fo many commentators Ruth Davidson is the confirmation of a series of myths that they need to perpetuate to make the reality of Conservatism palatable. Here she is “from Fife” an “ordinary working class girl” – she breaks the mould smashes through the glass ceiling and shatters any notion that the Tory party might be actively engaged in class war (for evidence of which see Exhibit A: the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s own speech).
She has exactly the same appeal as the blesses Margaret did, who was too “ordinary” – a grocers daughter – a grammar school girl. These individuals are proof of meritocracy even amidst a dazzling array of facts disproving such a thing. Structural inequality may be staring you in the face but if you can focus on just one individual such glaring privilege as is on display in Manchester just melts away.
This self-mythologising of the ordinariness of individuals is absolutely necessary to confound the extraordinariness of their party, their sub-culture and their economic interests.
Of course the Tory conference love her because she’s a self-hating Jock always ready for a joke about the Scotch. She’s loveable even when she does her stern face.
Of the four candidates Hammond is by far the most dangerous and by far the most likely to win. Taken collectively – despite efforts to magically disaggregate Davidson from her own party – they represent a resurgent Anglo-British nationalism and a lurch to the right not seen since the early 1970s when senior Tories met industry leaders to plot and plan resistance to the Red Menace.
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